Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR | High Sierra Topix  

Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:52 pm

I'm not quite sure if TR stands for Trip Report or Trauma Report. Maybe it's midlife crisis or sheer coincidence, but for whatever reason my trips have been taking on some unnecessary drama as of late.

This one was planned as a relatively placid hike up McGee Creek, over McGee Pass, crossing the Silver Divide and reaching Grinnell Lake by a variety of x-country passes, with a return to the trailhead via Hopkins Pass. The first two days went as according to plan. It was a bit early for fall color along McGee Creek, but that didn't stop the hoards of day hikers. There were some nice scenes.

Image

Image

The area surrounding Big McGee Lake is a magical blend of red and white (which unfortunately would turn out to be somewhat of an omen).

Image



User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:58 pm

Having hit 50 this year, I've been challenging myself to see how far I can go. I've been pleased that on every trip this summer (except the Matterhorn, which I've never done before), I've gone further the first day that I've ever made it before. I got to the pass by mid-afternoon. Since I've climbed Red Slate at least 4 times, I was happy just to waive at it this time, as I rounded over the pass.

Image

The rock in this area really is beautiful.

Image

As is the whole Fish Creek valley area.

Image
Last edited by quentinc on Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:07 pm

I ended up at a pond close to Izaak Walton lake the first night. Reflections were nice the next morning -- mornings seem to be the only time I can get a decent photo out of my point & shoot.

Image

I know GB and others will be disappointed in me, but I'm not a fisherman so didn't try out Izaak Walton lake. Since Mr. W. was the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler, I'd imagine it's a pretty good spot. Instead, I headed up towards this pass, which may be what Secor refers to as Rohn Pass (I can never tell with Secor). Excuse the glare.

Image

The view back down was nice, with Ritter and Banner in the background.

Image
Last edited by quentinc on Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:12 pm

Since it was right there, I decided to tackle Mt. Izaak Walton.

Image

On my first effort, I reached an uncrossable cleft before the peak and had to turn around and start over. It was fairly easy once I figured out the route.

Image

Izaak Walton is barely over 12,000 feet, but the view wasn't too bad (again, looking towards Ritter and Banner).

Image

The peak isn't climbed much -- there were 2 small notebooks in the can at the top, with the first dating from 1974. My mother would probably have a heart attack if she saw me climbing this, but I decided to dedicate it to her all the same.
Image
Last edited by quentinc on Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:19 pm

The route to Grinnell Lake involves two more passes, but they aren't that hard, and there are some nice lakes along the way. This is Bighorn Lake.

Image

Grinnell Lake is gorgeous at sunset, but my crummy camera (and technique) couldn't capture it. I'll post some photos from the next morning instead, which were better. Here's Red & White Peak at dawn.

Image

Looking south over the end of Grinnell Lake, towards Recess Peak.

Image

Looking back at Red & White (from my ill-fated attempt at crossing the ridge):

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:30 pm

The third day was when things took a tumble. I've crossed the ridge separating Grinnell Lake from Upper Hopkins Lake before, but this time I thought I'd try a shortcut. The crossing I had in mind didn't look so bad from the bottom, but got steeper, looser and more nerve-racking the higher I got.

Image

About 50 feet from the top, I decided to turn back. This may be the first time I've ever yielded to common sense. There were a couple close calls with loose rock, and too many Class 3 conundrums that I could have tackled without my pack but not with it. And there was the small matter of my having bashed my shin into a boulder out of sheer carelessness. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but then I didn't know it was going to continue to bleed for almost 24 hours.

I then tried to find the pass I'd used before, and this looked plausible.

Image

But it ended up being a big mistake. Not only did I have to hike forever, then I hit this wall.

Image
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:40 pm

But at least this one wasn't moving, so I trudged on. When I got to the top I saw that I had about 2000 feet of descending to do.

Image

I also realized I was being funneled south instead of the eastern direction I had sought. This was probably the most miserable descent I've ever made, mainly because it took over 2 hours, over every conceivable type of loose terrain. By the time I got to the bottom my right boot was literally sopping in blood. I was probably lightheaded from the loss, so I wasn't even sure where I was. I thought I had to be somewhere in the Hopkins Creek canyon, but when I found a trail it was heading more east than north. It was approaching sundown so I found a spot near the creek, at which point it dawned on me that I had somehow wandered all the way down to Mono Creek, only about 2000 feet below where I had hoped to end up. By this point, my entire right leg and foot from the knee down looked like something out of a horror movie. Without being too graphic, I didn't want to soak my entire sleeping bag in blood so I wrapped a Hefty garbage bag around my leg (the bandages just laughed when I asked them to stay on -- just too wet). At this point I started to freak about bleeding to death, and wondered if I should just put the rest of myself in the Hefty bag as well.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:51 pm

When I got up the next morning I found that the Hefty bag was almost literally a pool of blood. I wasn't sure what was going to become of me. I had over 2000 feet of gain ahead of me on the Hopkins Pass trail, which is especially steep at the beginning. But there wasn't much choice.

After I packed up, I discovered that my brand new Leki poles were broken. I had collapsed them when crossing the ridge the day before, and now they simply would not lock when I tried expanding them again. This was beyond belief, especially, since the same thing had just happened with a pair of cut-rate REI poles (which I brough the Lekis to replace). If there were ever a time I needed poles, this was it.

At this point, I took out the most powerful item in my first-aid kit -- the iPod. With my favorite Radiohead record in my ears, I soldiered on. Not coincidentally, the lyrics reminded me that "Everything is.....broken/Everyone is.....broken." But what I love most about Radiohead is how they make paranoia sound almost joyous, and I don't think I could have gotten up the first part of the trail without it. After an hour, I thought I was hallucinating, because I thought I saw what looked like a cross over a grave. It actually turned out to be

Image
Last edited by quentinc on Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:55 pm

I had made it up the steep part of the trail! And to my astonishment, I saw that my shin was no longer bleeding. My leg, sock and boot were a mess, but it looked like I was going to make it through this. Hope was back.

Image

From here on, it was a piece of cake. Oh yeah, the temperature plummeted by over 20 degrees and I got chased out by a howling snow storm. But it's still early October and there's plenty of time left for the Sierra. I can't wait for my next trip.


rest of the photos are here: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/574910889mvQwor
Last edited by quentinc on Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:56 pm

Wow, what trip. Glad you are in good spirits about it.
User avatar
mokelumnekid
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Seattle
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby maverick » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:33 pm

Sounds like a fun and adventurous trip with a little drama thrown in to spice things
up a bit.
May I recommend some Black Diamond Contour Carbon Poles with Flicklocks.
These poles are the best poles I have purchased, and I have broken quite a few.
No worries with the tightening mechanisms failing or torquing these babies like you
would regular round shaped poles, believe me these babies will outlast any other
poles, they have been Maverick Tested, now I wish I could find some footwear that
I could say the same things about.
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8029
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Grinnell Lake and the Pool of Blood -- TR

Postby quentinc » Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:55 pm

Mav, thanks for the recommendation. Is the carbon worth the extra bucks?

As for boots, I've been pretty happy with the Lowa Khumbu's I picked up, although since I can only lace up one of them (because of my ongoing foot issue) it hasn't exactly been a fair test. Now my only problem is figuring out how to get the right one cleaned.
User avatar
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], MSNbot Media [Bot] and 12 guests